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  • Robin Singer

The man who suddenly heard women - and renounced the Yogyakarta Principles

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

by Robin Singer

Calgary-born Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College, London, is a hit now in the UK among women trying to roll back the demands of synthetic sex industry activists.

Wintemute -- who completed his BA in Economics at the University of Alberta in 1978 and earned his LLB (common law) and BCL (Québec civil law) in the National Programme at McGill University in 1982 before practicing law in New York, ending up finally in London – was one of the original 29 signatories of the Yogyakarta Principles.

The group was brought together in 2007 by Canadian company Allied Rainbow Communities International (ARC International), which sent them to Indonesia to craft the principles. They were intended to deal with the application of human rights law on matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The principles have not been adopted by industrial states or the U.N. But ARC International aggressively promotes them. As the website proudly states, they:

worked with partners to successfully launch the Principles, prepared backgrounders and advocacy materials to support regional launch initiatives, developed a website, track the ongoing use of the Principles, are participating in the development of an activists’ guide, and conduct ongoing training and support for organizations using the Principles.

The Critic Magazine recently noted, “The Yogyakarta Principles have no legal force but they, and their interpretation of ‘gender,’ are extremely influential internationally.”

The international synthetic sex industry has been using Canada and Canadians in the drive to desex the world’s population for years. Readers can find more about the role of the Arcus-funded ARC International in a previous GenderDissent article and about other American-funded initiatives directed at Canadians here and here.

So we wonder if it’s prophetic that a Canadian is the first to renounce his capture and complicity in a movement that is already responsible for substantial harm to women and to children. But is it too little, too late?

Wintemute has become a Trustee in LGB Alliance, the British organization that aims to represent homosexual people who no longer feel represented by Stonewall. He is a lawyer and has written about the Maya Forstater case.

Wintemute is now critical of Yogyakarta Principle 3 (that governments “fully respect and legally recognise each person’s self-defined gender identity”) and Principle 31 (that governments “end the registration of the sex and gender of the person in identity documents”). He has said that the conflict with women’s rights was not discussed at the time the principles were written. And he went on to elaborate:

Men are rarely if ever affected by transgender demands so it is easy to say yes. We must always try to imagine ourselves in the changing rooms, hospital wards, and prisons of lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual women. Better protection of the human rights of a very small minority must not come at the expense of the human rights of the majority of the population.

Wintemute explained, to the wild applause of his audience at the LGB Alliance conference in November 2021, that he changed his mind as a result of listening to women. His recorded speech begins at minute 10:55 in the video: The ideological capture of the Welsh Government I: Follow the Money Part 1. The following is a partial transcript of his comments:

In November 2017, the second version of the Yogyakarta Principles incorporated the fourth transgender demand. Principle 31 claims that under existing international human rights law, every country in the world has an obligation to end the registration of the sex of the person in identity documents such as birth certificates. Until this is done, the third transgender demand, self-identification, must be adopted. No eligibility criteria such as a psychological medical diagnosis or minimum age shall be a prerequisite to change one’s legal sex.

With regard to change of legal sex, theYogyakarta Principles are not a neutral document in human rights law but rather a radical advocacy document. I would argue that the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) is very generous, that parliament should not amend it for England and Wales, or the Scottish government in Scotland especially because the Strasbourg court does not require us to change it.

Proponents of change consider the requirement of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be humiliating or stigmatizing, but we must remember that a transgender person seeking a change of legal sex is asking for an exemption from the general rule that a person’s birth sex is their legal sex for life because their birth sex never changes.

Exemptions have conditions. We can justifiably attach conditions to crossing the legal border from male to female or female to male, just as we attach conditions to crossing an international border, acquiring a new citizenship, being granted refugee status, being approved as an adoptive parent, obtaining disability benefits or being granted the status of conscientious objector to military service.

In none of these situations is it sufficient to self-identify as a visitor, citizen, refugee, adoptive parent, disabled person or conscientious objector. The transgender rights movement has gone well beyond seeking equal rights. It seems to liberate women without their consent from the legal protections of their birth sex and even from the recording of their birth sex.

Better protection of the human rights of a very small minority must not come at the expense of the human rights of the majority of the population. In closing, I would like to say that I have changed my mind with regard to certain transgender demands including access to women only spaces, after listening to women.

Though he was not invited to participate, Wintemute commented on the Yogyakarta Principles 10+, a later addition to the original guide:

Instead of changing the person’s legal sex, the guide could have simply sought to protect people from harm triggered by the difference between their legal sex and their appearance on the basis of their presentation. This would remove much of the current conflict, as it would affirm trans people’s birth sex as their legal sex, while ensuring their protection from discrimination based on gender non-conforming appearance or behaviour. Birth sex is less important now, with same-sex marriage and equal state pension ages. But in my view birth sex is not an irrelevant detail and should not be automatically ‘trumped’ by gender identity in single-sex situations

The original Principles were based on the law as it existed somewhere in the world, even if only in one country.

Wintemute admitted to The Critic, that he “failed to consider” that trans women still in possession of their male genitals would seek to access female-only spaces. He should have challenged references to “self-defined gender identity” and to “changes to identity documents recognized in all contexts.” “Women’s rights weren’t raised,” he added. In fact, he only noticed UK’s “spousal veto” provision in 2018, which gives spouses of people transitioning the right to an annulment before the transition is legally recognised.

Does the fact that Wintemute described a reasonable legal alternative to Self ID mean that the conflict with women’s rights was always the plan of at least some signatories of the Yogyakarta Principles? Wintemute commented on Principle 31 again in The Critic, saying “It’s outrageous! There is no country in the world that has ended the registration of sex on birth certificates.”

He said that few women were involved with the writing of the Yogyakarta Principles, and those few focused on specific details such as health. He said, “The issue of access to single-sex spaces largely affects women and not men. So it was easy for the men (and trans identified men) in the group to be swept along by concern for LGBT rights and ignore this issue.”

Remarkably, the co-chair of the YP10+ committee was a woman, a Brazilian sexual rights activist named Sonya Correa. She views the biological differences between men and women as “fundamentalist” and “a 19th century western construct,” and holds up the Yogyakarta Principles as a model for laws because they do not mention the word “woman.”

Other women have been critical of the Yogyakarta Principles since they were first published. Feminist Sheila Jeffries wrote in her scholarly document “Enforcing Men’s Sexual Rights in International Human Rights Law” that “The Yogyakarta Principles as far as they concern lesbian and gay rights are much needed and it is very unfortunate that they are compromised and undermined by the creation of rights for mainly heterosexual men who cross dress and impersonate women…The concept of ‘gender identity’ “endangers the very notion of women’s rights as human rights.”

Norwegian activist Christina Ellingsen described her own police investigation for saying that men can be neither lesbians nor mothers to Feminist Question Time at Women’s Declaration International (WDI). In her presentation, she articulated the chronology of erasure of women’s rights due to new Norwegian laws based on Yogyakarta Principles. WDI is fiercely opposed to the principles and subsequent laws.

The lock-step correlation between the Yogyakarta Principles and the laws enacted in local countries is unmistakable. It is precisely at this time that countries around the world, including Canada, are taking steps to fully institute Principle 31, which will have devasting consequences for women. Norway is the first country to announce plans to eliminate any reference to the sex of its citizens. Canada is not far behind.


2009 removal of diagnostic classification of ‘transvestic fetishism’

2010 new legal vocabulary of ‘trans,’ ‘gender identity’ and increase in men claiming to be women

2013 ‘Gender identity’ included in Norwegian law without Gender-Based Assessment (GBA)

2015 ‘Sex’ removed by Norwegian tax department citing transvestite’s needs not women’s needs

2016 Law passed preventing differentiation between sex and gender identity thus removing diagnostic criteria for legal sex change

2017 Rape statistics tripled for women reported for committing rape.

2020 Activists proposed gender identity be included in Norwegian criminal and hate crime law

2022 Christine Ellingsen was interrogated for nine hours and is being investigated for suspected hate speech risking 3 years in prison. Legal sex may be changed without medical diagnosis from the age of 6 and without parental consent

2032 Norway to introduce gender neutral ID numbers thereby removing sex as an identity marker in line with the Yogyakarta Principles

Although Canadian legacy media has largely ignored the latest attack on Christine Ellingsen, Journal de Quebec and Meghan Murphy understood immediately the grave significance of Ellingsen’s risk of a lengthy prison sentence both for her and for all women in all countries. Ellingsen noted that “Women are not protected against hate speech in Norway, but men who claim to be both lesbian and a woman are protected both on the grounds of gender identity and on the grounds of sexual orientation.” At minute 21 of this Feminist Current podcast Ellingsen explained to Murphy that Gender identity legislation was passed by stealth in Norway.

It is important for Canadians to realize that practices here are also being instituted ”by stealth.” Permitting fully intact men to be housed with women in prison is a case in point. The change was mandated quietly by policy to reflect human rights organizations’ wishes and without input from parliament as would be the case with laws. The now notorious Denton’s Manual instructs activists to work under the radar. The Critic explains,

The Principles (Yogyakarta) also underpin the stance of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, which campaigns around the world for pre-operative males who identify as women to be housed in female-only accommodation.”

In Canada, “anti-hate” activists have already been making spurious claims (but not yet criminal charges) against individuals and Canadian women’s groups. Fortunately, the Toronto Sun reported, “a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is good news for defenders of free speech. A moment of optimism was granted from the Ottawa small claims court on Nov. 10 when the court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Richard Warman, a lawyer and board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN).

Not to be diverted from its goal, the Canadian government has issued an anti-hate toolkit developed by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network for use in all schools. The Canadian government has made no secret of its intent to criminalize speech that they may consider to be hateful, which is certain to have negative implications for the rights of women.

To reiterate Wintemute’s observation, trans activists are trying “to liberate women (and girls) without their consent from the legal protections of their birth sex and even from the recording of their birth sex.” Can one man’s vocal transition from supporter of men who want to claim womanhood to supporter of women be enough to slow down the total erasure of sex as a legal identity marker? Can his voice be heard in Canada?

Canadian women’s rights are steadily being eroded. Thanks to the Yogyakarta Principles, we now have sexually intact violent men, housed with women in prisons which sometimes include young children. We have men parading their fetishized idea of women’s breasts to children in classrooms. We have mothers and fathers unable to stop schools from socially transitioning their children and we have an exponential rise in children wishing to medically transition to the opposite sex. We have six year-olds being told there is no such thing as girls and boys. We have parents who may now be criminalized for counselling their child to wait until they are older before making irreversible decisions. We have nurses being investigated for their belief in biological sex. We have the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport issuing a review saying that men in women’s sport is fair until proven otherwise.

Women have no reason to believe that the Yogyakarta Principles 10+ will not be followed by more demands in 2027 or sooner. The Canadian government no longer knows how to define “woman” and in fact is avoiding using the word in legislation -- as seen in the wording of Bill C-11:

Although there has been a great deal of criticism, Canadian lawmakers have apparently decided that “woman” is to be subsumed in one of hundreds of genders. With the disappearance of the word “woman,” meaning adult human female, there will soon be no way to understand our present or our future.

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